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Problems, solutions, and outcomes; a big misunderstanding in development

The first time I visited a village in Nigeria where people didn’t have access to water, I instantly wanted to solve the problem. The solution seemed simple enough: build a water well. So, with the help of friends and family I raised $10,000 and built a well in the village. It worked—for a bit.  About six months after the first drop of water flowed from the well, I received a call that the water contraption was broken. After...

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The #EndSARS movement is about more than ending police brutality in Nigeria

Image source: Flickr, Steve Eason If a government chooses to fire live ammunition at citizens who are peacefully protesting, then the social contract between citizen and State is fundamentally broken. That was the case in Nigeria on October 20, 2020, when armed forces shot at #EndSARS protesters in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital. That day, now commemorated as “Black Tuesday,” 48 people are estimated to have lost their...

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As millions lose jobs, targeting nonconsumption is more important than ever

It’s the beginning of the year and you have high hopes for your family. Your two children are about to start school and your spouse is working on launching a new business. You live in an emerging economy and make roughly $150 a month. Unemployment is high, but somehow you have a feeling that 2020 will be a breakthrough year. Then March rolls around and the pandemic you’ve been hearing about gets serious. You can’t really see it,...

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Rethinking corruption in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic

One would think the collective widespread suffering brought about by the global pandemic would only intensify feelings of solidarity among people. Seeing people suffer on such a massive scale triggers empathy, and in the context of the current pandemic has led to innumerable acts of kindness between fellow humans. But it’s also opened up opportunities for corruption and exploitation, especially as governments take on an expanded role...

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Why most anti-poverty programs fail to eradicate poverty

Before COVID-19, the world was replete with anti-poverty programs. And considering the fact that around 100 million people will slide into poverty as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic, more anti-poverty programs are bound to emerge. From the thousands of makeshift schools and clinics in poor countries, to the countless number of water wells built in struggling communities, billions of dollars will continue to be spent on...

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A market creation story: Brazil’s Nubank

“The financial engine for half the world’s jobs is about to seize up,” is how Michael Schlein of Accion, a financial inclusion nonprofit, put it. As the pandemic forces micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across the globe to shut down, many will struggle to reopen. According to the World Bank, MSMEs employ more than 50% of the global workforce, but are often excluded from formal banking sources that are needed to...

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Mining for entrepreneurial gold: Discovering market-creating ideas in emerging economies

Since the onset of COVID-19, investors have withdrawn ~$103bn from emerging markets, seeking a safe haven for capital in a highly uncertain environment. However, the best opportunities often arise when fear is widespread, and the current environment is no different. Investors who abandon emerging markets now may find that they have missed the chance to invest in innovative new businesses that will grow for years to come. In particular,...